Making PlansAt this time of year, I religiously spend time reviewing what marketing and communication activities have really worked for my business and which were more of a challenge over the past 12 months. Businesses evolve all the time so it’s worth setting aside some time on a regular basis to think about your business development and consider whether your marketing activity is helping or hindering you to reach your business goals.

Here are my top three tips when you’re reviewing your marketing activity.

  1. Is your target audience the same as before? Spend some time thinking about your ideal customer. Profile them. Where and when is the best time to reach them? As your business has grown, has your target audience changed? Are you offering your services to a more niche customer? The better you understand your customers and their needs, the better able you are to develop products and services that help them. As your understanding becomes clearer, you can also work out exactly which customers are your most profitable. Spend some time thinking about your product offering and add on the phrase ‘which means that’ to the end of a sentence, eg. We offer a range of IT solutions which means that we can support your business whether you are using PCs or Macs. Make the benefit of working with you clear and use strong language to make your value proposition powerful and a must-have that suits your target customer.
  2. Be honest about how much time you want to spend marketing, which things you know work and don’t be afraid to put your hand up and say ‘I don’t understand this’ or even, ‘I don’t like doing this!’ As a business owner, quite often you are expected to be able to juggle everything – invoicing, selling, marketing, making tea…this list is endless. For some people, marketing is a joy. It’s part of the business which they really like and are naturally good at. For others, it’s a necessary evil. They would much prefer to be selling or just focusing on developing new products. All well and good but as any successful business owner will tell you – you could have the best product out there but if no-one knows about it due to a lack of marketing, then the business will fail.

If you are one of those people who are a bit stumped with marketing, spend a session with a marketing advisor. Quite often working with a marketer as a mentor, can help you free up time so that the marketing activities you are doing really pack a punch rather than being a time suck where nothing really works as you want it to and doesn’t get you any results. My top tip for making sure my marketing activity doesn’t slide is to do these things:

  • Religiously stick to how much time you have allotted for marketing in your working week. If you decide a day a week is what you need/can afford, put a day in your diary and keep that day for that activity
  • If social media is part of your activity, be strict about how you manage this when you are on there. I spend 20 minutes in the morning, 20 minutes at lunchtime and 20 minutes at the end of the day on social activities every day. I may do more if I have time but I’ve learnt from weeks of surfing YouTube that I’m much more productive if I do little and often. Don’t lose a couple of hours watching reruns of old 80’s pop videos (my lesson learned!)
  • I do a lot of my marketing planning away from my desk. Choose an environment where you feel creative and where you cannot be drawn from the task in hand. If you can’t get a mobile signal for a couple of hours, even better! This is also great for blogging. I often take a train journey to Dorset to see a client and the mobile signal is horrendous and therefore I’m not distracted by research, phone calls or surfing the net. Instead quite often in the journey down and back, I will have written first drafts of my blog posts for the month and the monthly column I write for a business magazine.
  1. Make sure you put some targets in place so that you can measure what marketing has worked and what hasn’t. These don’t necessarily just have to be sales or new business leads targets although you should measure these too. Check whether you have written the amount of blog posts you were hoping to get done, social media updates and conversations, how many networking events you have been to and how many leads came from them. By evaluating all of your marketing performance, you can see what has been a success so that you can do more of it and see what needs refining. With all marketing activity, give it enough time. Marketing and building brand awareness does not happen overnight so be realistic about doing an activity before writing it off.

 

Hopefully this will get you off to a good start for 2013. If you are looking for someone to bounce some ideas off, outsource to or you just want some training on certain aspects of marketing, why not drop us a line or check out our events pages. Happy planning!